Bobcats Breeding with Feral Cats?

Question: About 15 years ago I read about bobcats mating with feral house cats, producing hybr id offspring. The concern at that time was that too much of this could threaten the bobcat population with extinction as a distinct life form. In a more recent Science 2006 article, studies of DNA showed eight lineages of Felidae. Modern day cats, Felis cattus, are considered the most recent to split off from the ancestral line. Lynx rufus, the bobcat, is shown as three lineages earlier. Could such distantly related species breed successfully? Are scientists concerned for the future of this species? (Julie V., Gualala)

Answer: The concept you are referring to is “outbreeding depression.” Breeding with closely related subspecies can dilute the genotype and cause a loss of the pure characteristics. Behaviors of bobcats are different from feral cats to the degree that they don’t recognize each other as a breeding partner. Because of this, outbreeding depression is not an issue with bobcats.

According to Senior Wildlife Biologist Doug Updike, sometimes this is intentionally done with endangered species to bolster the genetic fitness of endangered species with low genetic heterogeneity. This was done with the Florida panther as its population numbers were on the brink of extinction and the breeding success was very poor due to genetic-linked anomalies. Breeding them with closely related cougars from Texas caused the detrimental recessive traits to go away and the populations are rebounding.

Bobcats are widely distributed in North America, they are abundant and they interact with feral cats in only limited locations.

Can You Hunt a Species Not Listed in the Regulations?
Question: I have two questions. Where can I find the regulations on retrieving game that has moved onto another’s property after being shot? I believe that it is legal but I can’t find the regs. Secondly, I know there are quite a few types of ducks that are not listed in the waterfowl regulations (e.g. teal, mergansers, etc.). If a species is not specifically mentioned, does this mean that they can or cannot be hunted? (Joe D.)

Answer: There are no regulations which allow you to recover game that ends up on private property. You are expected to retrieve all game you harvest and not to cause wanton waste by failing to recover something you’ve shot, but you must get permission from the landowner to legally enter their property. If you are not able to reach them for permission, you may contact the local game warden or sheriff and request assistance.

The waterfowl regulations apply to all species of geese, ducks and mergansers. Coots have different regulations. As long as the waterfowl species you take does not have more specific regulations than the general bag limits, that non-specified waterfowl species can be included in your general bag.

Qualifications for a Disabled Access Hunting Site?
Question: I have always enjoyed duck hunting but now after several orthopedic surgeries on my hips and knees, I have considerable difficulty in walking. In the outdoors I must use a staff and can go about 100 yards on a level surface before resting. I am not currently confined to the use of a walker, crutches or a wheelchair, however, in the light of my walking disability am I eligible to apply for a Disabled Access Hunting Site? I have a permanent disabled person parking card and I hold a Lifetime License. Am I eligible? (Vivian N., Marysville)

Answer: Yes, you qualify. The criteria for hunting at the disabled accessible hunting sites requires that you have a permanent disabled parking placard and the paperwork from the Department of Motor Vehicles showing that the placard was issued to you. Applications are available on our Web site at

You might also be interested in the special hunts for disabled persons conducted through our Game Bird Heritage Program. Information about these hunts can be found on our Web site at

Can I Keep an Empty Abalone Shell from Southern California?
Question: If I found an abalone shell in Southern California, could I bring it home without any fear of getting into trouble with DFG? And yes, it would be a shell without a living ab in it. (Shark dude)

Answer: Yes, even though abalone may no longer be harvested in waters south of the Golden Gate Bridge, empty shells may be picked up and brought home if found cast on the beach or in the water. This is perfectly legal. However, game wardens inspecting these empty shells will expect the shells to show some weathering on the otherwise shiny colorful inside portion due to exposure to the salty water and ocean elements. This evidence will show the shell had been empty and did not contain an abalone at the time of collection.

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Carrie Wilson is a marine biologist with the California Department of Fish and Game. While she cannot personally answer everyone’s questions, she will select a few to answer each week. Please contact her at

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